New Zealand’s Ardern in farewell: one can be sensitive and lead

Sydney, Australia, Apr 5 (EFE).- Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke Wednesday about her time as a leader, during an emotional speech in parliament full of laughter and jokes with her colleagues, ending nearly 15 years of political career.

“(You can) be nice, have a heart or roll up your sleeves, be a mother or not, ex-Mormon or not, be a nerd, a crybaby or a hugger. You can be all of those things and you can not only be here, but you can lead as I did,” said an emotional Ardern, who governed between March 2017 and January.

She spoke of all the personal characteristics she relied on during her career, especially in the five years she served as prime minister, despite facing unprecedented tragedies and disasters for the country.

Ardern, who in 2017 and at 37, became the world’s youngest head of government, said in her speech that taking office was a kind of “a cross between the sense of duty of running a train moving cargo (…) and being run over by one.”

Ardern faced difficult situations with empathy and sensitivity such as the extremist attack in March 2019 against two mosques in the city of Christchurch, where 51 Muslims were killed by a white supremacist, the eruption of the Whakaari volcano in December 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a nation, we set out to take care of each other, and we did,” said Ardern, with a Kakahu (traditional Maori cloak) on her shoulders and who also spoke in the indigenous language to recognize the original peoples and in Arabic to express affection to the victims of the Christchurch massacre.

Ardern, who resigned without prior notice in January saying she lacked the strength to continue leading the country, said that in the last months of the fight against Covid-19, “a myriad of false information” was spread that detonated in anti-vaccine demonstrations.

These protests in the country, which applied very strict measures during the health crisis and overcame Covid-19 with a relatively low number of deaths, turned into violent actions in February 2022 that led to a loss of image.

For this reason, the former president asked her fellow citizens and parliament to fight against disinformation because it is the “nemesis of democracy” and, according to her, she tries to “silence people” and “silence debates.”

Ardern also called on parliament, where her seat will remain vacant until the October elections, not to stop fighting the climate crisis since “we owe it to the new generations and to ourselves.” EFE


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